Can Boston expect a white Christmas this year?

After all, the odds of a white Christmas are low even in snow-filled years.

Boston, MA - November 25, 2016: Brady Cushman (cq) , 6, dawned an elf hat while admiring the Christmas tree following the Macy's Downtown Boston Tree Lighting & Window Unveiling in Boston, MA on November 25, 2016. The annual event included performances and the arrival of Santa Claus. (Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe)  Section: Metro reporter:
–Craig F. Walker / The Boston Globe

Back in 2009, about 60 percent of the country, excluding Alaska and Hawaii, had a white Christmas. That December 25 marked the greatest snow cover on Christmas Day in the past 13 years—although Bing Crosby loved to sing about a white Christmas, most of the lower 48 states are typically green for the holiday.

This year, the chances of a white Christmas in Boston are low per usual.

A white Christmas is defined by the National Weather Service as having one inch or more of snow on the ground when the observation is taken Christmas morning, usually around 7 a.m. EST. If we were to get a foot of snow Christmas night, it wouldn’t count as a white Christmas.


Back in 2009, Boston had four inches of snow on the ground at when the observation was taken in the morning. It was one of only eight official white Christmases here since way back in 1872, when they first started taking official measurements.

Widespread snow cover brought a white Christmas to New England in 2009. —NOHRSC

This year, the New England spot with the greatest chance of a white Christmas is Caribou, Maine.  There, there’s nearly a 90 percent chance that at least an inch of snow will be on the ground Christmas morning.  Indeed, even when temperatures were in the 60s on Christmas Day last year, Caribou still had three inches of snow on the ground.

If you want to ensure a white Christmas, you could also hike up Mount Washington—there’s sure to be snow there Christmas morning.

Only the far northern areas and mountains of the lower 48 are likely to have a white Christmas each year. —NOAA

The computer models we use also predict snow cover.  These predictions are based on what will fall and what will melt. The map below shows how much snow is forecast to be on the ground the Friday before Christmas, December 23.  However, because, right now, I don’t see any snowstorms after that, I am predicting bare ground in Boston at Christmas with some chance of a white Christmas in areas west of Interstate 495 and north of Route 2.

Boston is likely to have bare ground at Christmas again this year. —Map Data WeatherBell Analytics

Temperatures last year reached near 70 on Christmas Eve and into the 60s for Christmas Day. This year, it looks like it will be seasonably chilly on Christmas, but without bitter air.

Christmas morning will be chilly, but no arctic air is likely. —Tropical Tidbits

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